DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Pedagogical Documentation in Early Childhood SHARING CHILDREN’S LEARNING AND TEACHERS’ THINKING Susan Stacey COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Pedagogical Documentation in Early Childhood COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Other Redleaf Press Books by Susan Stacey Emergent Curriculum in Early Childhood Settings: From Theory to Practice The Unscripted Classroom: Emergent Curriculum in Action COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Pedagogical Documentation in Early Childhood SHARING CHILDREN’S LEARNING AND TEACHERS’ THINKING Susan Stacey COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Published by Redleaf Press 10 Yorkton Court St. Paul, MN 55117 © 2015 by Susan Stacey All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted on a specific page, no portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or capturing on any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a critical article or review to be printed in a magazine or newspaper, or electronically transmitted on radio, television, or the Internet. First edition 2015 Cover design by Percolator Cover photographs/illustrations by Bethlehem Child Care Interior design by Percolator Typeset in Chaparral Pro Interior photos by Susan Stacey Printed in the United States of America 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Library of Congress Cataloging-​in-​Publication Data Stacey, Susan.   Pedagogical documentation in early childhood : sharing children’s learning and teachers’ thinking / Susan Stacey.        pages cm    Includes bibliographical references and index.    ISBN 978-1-60554-391-8 (paperback) 1.  Early childhood education. 2.  Early childhood education--Curricula. 3.  Student-centered learning. 4.  Inquiry-based learning. 5.  Reflective teaching. 6.  Observation (Educational method) 7.  Critical pedagogy.  I. Title. LB1139.23.S73 2015    372.21--dc23                                                             2014040909 Printed on acid-​free paper COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET For my sister Sarah, who knows instinctively how to be in the moment with young children COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Contents ix Preface xv Acknowledgments 1 Introduction: The What and the Why 11 Chapter 1: Starting Points 23 Chapter 2: Design and Photography 35 Chapter 3: The Chocolate Project 49 Chapter 4: Documenting Extraordinary Moments and Short Explorations 63 Chapter 5: Connecting with Families through Documentation 75 Chapter 6: Digital Documentation 85 Chapter 7: Reflections 97 Glossary 99 References 101 Index COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Preface Emergent curriculum is learning that begins with keen observation and listening for a child’s agenda, followed by deep reflection, responses, and support from the child’s educators. It allows for children and teachers to co-​construct curriculum that is intentional and meaningful. The use of emergent, inquiry-​based practices with young children continues to spread rapidly throughout the world. Much exploration of these approaches has taken place in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. This is heartening for those of us who have spent many years advo- cating for play-​based, child-​centered learning. We have learned much about inquiry and project-​based learning from our coun- terparts in Reggio Emilia, Italy. After the devastation of World War II, families and educators in this northern Italian town began developing thoughtful, creative, and inspiring approaches toward the education of young children. These approaches have led educators around the world to consider their image of the child and con- sider how they might reflect that image in their teaching practices. Over time, some educators have adapted approaches from Reggio Emilia for use in their own early childhood settings. I suspect that many of us first became aware of pedagogical documentation—​the practice of making children’s and teachers’ thinking and learning visible through graphic displays of photography, work samples, and text—​when we examined the work coming out of Reggio Emilia. This documentation was, and continues to be, astoundingly insightful, beautifully presented, and thought provoking. It is no won- der that this work has captured our hearts, minds, and imaginations. My first exposure to the documentation of children’s work has stayed with me for more than twenty years. It occurred when I was on a study tour at the Model Early Learning Center (MELC), a preschool for three-​to five-​year-​olds in Washington, DC, where founder and director Ann Lewin-​Benham had been exploring the work of Reggio educators and their leaders. The educators at MELC had been collaborating on-​site at their school with Amelia Gambetti, a pedagogical leader who was visiting from Reggio Emilia. Ms. Gambetti worked alongside the MELC educators as a master teacher for several months so that they could experience approaches from the Italian schools. At this time, I was the program coordinator at Peter Green Hall Children’s Centre (PGHCC) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and we too were immersed in the study of ix COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE Early TO ZOOM x   Pedagogical Documentation in TAP Childhood WITH PHONE OR TABLET approaches and ideas from Reggio Emilia. The director of PGHCC, Barb Bigelow, and I were excited to hear that MELC was offering the opportunity through a study tour to view its environment and its work and to engage in dialogue with its teachers. We rushed to the phone to register for the tour! We were not disappointed. Over two days, our thinking and learning about the Reggio Emilia approach to education deepened, and the experience challenged our assumptions. It was a rich learning experience on many levels. We viewed beautiful, thoughtfully planned environments that had been developed with intense attention to beauty, detail, and organization and with the child’s possible actions in mind. We saw everyday items, such as mirrors, used in unusual ways. Natural materials and loose parts were plentiful. And we saw some equipment, such as light tables, that were new to us at that time. In addition, we viewed educators in thoughtful conver- sation with children, listening carefully and responding to what they heard. But it was during the first tour of the center that I came to a standstill, filled with curiosity and wonder. A simple documentation panel made me stop in my tracks. I turned to Barb and asked, “Have you seen this?” The photographs, precisely arranged in a horizontal format with text beneath each photo, told a story about an exploration of lines. The photographs, traces of children’s work, and explanations provoked me to think about the children’s thinking. But even more importantly, the very idea that inquiry and learning could be made visible in such a way stunned me. I had never before seen or heard of graphic representations of the collaboration between children and teachers. My first thought was “Of course! Why didn’t I think of this before?” Demonstrating children’s work in this way made perfect sense to me, and I wanted to try it—​immediately. Of course, the journey of learning to develop and use pedagogical documentation does not happen quickly. I had to invest some time, study, and experimentation before I was even remotely satisfied with a piece of documentation that I had pro- duced. But the first piece that I tried upon returning from the study tour did have a profound effect on my colleagues at PGHCC. The piece was very simple: an ac- count of a field trip to a pumpkin patch, together with the follow-​up activities and conversations that happened in the subsequent days and a description of what the teachers believed the children had learned. This piece did not include the most awe-​ inspiring reflections, to be sure, but nevertheless it was a beginning. The teachers were delighted to see their work described. It seemed to me that they considered this documentation to be a validation of their work with children. It displayed the hard work, thought, and care with which the teachers developed curriculum. The children themselves were excited to revisit and talk about their experience. We were beginning a long-​term relationship with pedagogical documentation. Why does documentation resonate so deeply with us as teachers? Why, since it first appeared within early childhood settings in Europe and North America, have we embraced it with such vigor? When I ask educators about their thoughts on doc- umentation, their responses almost always mention the way it makes them feel and the ways in which it provokes a response in others. Perhaps this is the most valuable COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET aspect of thoughtful, well-​executed documentation: regardless of its topic or format, it provokes a response—​from other teachers, from families, and from the children themselves. Documentation at its best leads to reflection and dialogue. It also leads to decisions about development of curriculum and further research. It connects us to the actions of the children, to one another, and to the wider community. As educators, we are no longer working in isolation but are sharing our thoughts, our questions, our wonder, and the work of the children themselves. Sometimes we do not at first fully understand the meaning of the children’s work. Questions arise, tangents develop, and our documentation becomes a story of our own attempts to understand and support children in their inquiry. Carol Anne Wien states: Pedagogical documentation is the teacher’s story of the movement of children’s understanding. The concept of learning in motion helps teachers, families, and policy makers grasp the idea that learning is provisional and dynamic; it may appear to expand and contract, rise, and even disappear. . . . Pedagogical documentation is a research story, built upon a question or inquiry “owned by” the teachers, children, or others, about the learning of children. (Wien, Guyevskey, and Berdoussis 2011, 2) Pedagogical documentation supports us in our work. It provides a mirror that reflects our practice. When we view this mirror with an open mind and heart, it quickly becomes a tool for learning—​not only for us and for children but also for families and other caregivers, who may wonder why we do things the way we do. Documentation can provide clarity when we look back at what has happened over the past few days or weeks. Typically, when children view themselves in action, they have something additional to say about what they did, and so the thinking and learning continues. Over the years, I have introduced the idea of pedagogical documentation to many early childhood educators in North America. Participants in workshops and seminars have had the same reactions over and over again. They say that the docu- mentation is beautiful, that it is a worthwhile endeavor, that it validates and tells the story of teachers’ work and the work of young children, and that it has the potential to draw families into collaboration with teachers and children. However, challenges frequently arise when practitioners—​whether they are students or seasoned educators—​actually begin the journey of documenting children’s work. Sometimes they underestimate the depth of reflection involved, and the text does not do justice to the children’s thinking and ideas. Or practitioners working in busy classrooms simply cannot find the time to collect and assemble the necessary photo- graphs, traces of children’s work, and notes that are required for rich documentation. Yet for all the beginning struggles, many teachers persevere, practice and reflect, and produce wonderful narrations of what happened, the questions that arose, how they were investigated, and the roles of both children and teachers. Documentation, like the emergent and responsive curriculum it supports, is a journey, and it’s one that’s COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Preface  xi DOUBLE Early TO ZOOM xii   Pedagogical Documentation in TAP Childhood WITH PHONE OR TABLET well worth the effort. This book is intended to support that effort, from beginning stages to the more sophisticated forms of documentation, and to clarify what doc- umentation is and is not. Let’s take a look at the upcoming chapters and how this book can work for you. You will notice that every chapter ends with a section titled Invitation to Explore. Each chapter also contains ample photographic examples from real-​life classroom work embedded within the text, so you can visualize how various forms of docu- mentation might develop. The introduction examines what pedagogical documentation is and is not, as well as why it is important for educators, children, and their families. We will think about teachers’ reflection on their practice, professional growth, responsive decision mak- ing, and co-​owning the curriculum with children. The introduction also offers a brief overview of the many types of documentation that are possible, with photographic examples. Finally, it discusses when and how each type is appropriate within the life of an early childhood classroom. Chapter 1 addresses starting points: what we might document and where we might begin, with examples of documentation that began in various places within an inquiry or within the daily life of the classroom. In this chapter we will also take a look at the various stages of teacher development in using documentation. The chap- ter ends with an invitation to explore how we see children’s thinking as it unfolds. Chapter 2 explores the world of design and photography. Since high-​quality docu- mentation depends in part on how we present the photographs, notes, and children’s work visually, we will turn to a design expert to learn about what works well and what gets in the way of a reader’s viewing and understanding documentation. You will find practical suggestions for taking useful photographs and for choosing the ideal photographs for each piece of documentation. You simply cannot use them all! Also, we will examine the language that we use when describing children’s work. How do we determine the essence of what is happening, and how do we clearly describe that? The Invitation to Explore at the end of this chapter involves making choices about photographs of children in action. Chapter 3 provides a detailed deconstruction of some long-​term projects, so that we can better understand the teachers’ thinking as they made decisions about how to document the work. The Invitation to Explore asks you to reflect on these decisions. Chapter 4 provides examples of the documentation of extraordinary moments—​ those seemingly small occurrences that crop up throughout the days with young children that provide flashes of insight for the child or the teacher. Although they are not part of long-​term projects, they are nevertheless important for many reasons, which we will explore. The Invitation to Explore provides a chance to think and write about some extraordinary moments within your own classroom. Chapter 5 takes a look at some creative ways of displaying documentation. We will examine formats, materials, and the use of odd spaces within the classroom, and we will celebrate the creativity of teachers who thought in unusual ways about COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET physical spaces. This chapter invites you to consider your own environment and the potential within it for presenting documentation. Chapter 6 takes a look at digital documentation, discussing both the advantages and the pitfalls. We will look at helpful applications and social media as a way of shar- ing with families and other educators, and examine what to consider when creating a blog or web page that uses pedagogical documentation. I will invite you to explore some high-​quality websites that concentrate on documentation. Chapter 7 provides a chance to look back and reflect on your practice and how the information within this book may support it. It introduces the idea of documen- tation as a form of teacher research, with an example. It also asks administrators and directors to think about their role in supporting pedagogical documentation. Finally, and importantly, in this chapter we will think about children’s responses to documentation and how these responses can guide us as teachers. We will end with a final Invitation to Explore: What is next for you? COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Preface  xiii DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Acknowledgments Early childhood educators work hard to develop thoughtful, intentional programs for their young charges, often with little financial support or public recognition. Therefore, my first thanks go to those who work in this challenging and rewarding field, and who continue to seek out and embrace new and promising approaches to their work. These dedicated lifelong learners are to be applauded and admired, for they nurture the youngest among us at the most important times of their lives. Those educators who have shared their work in this book have contributed to their field and to my own thinking and learning. They are Annette Comeau, whose design expertise was invaluable; Sandra Floyd, whose work inspired Ann Pelo to sug- gest that I reach out to Seattle to discuss Sandra’s documentation; Donna Stapleton, who continues to lead her staff with creativity and dedication; Aya Saito, who, while still a student, challenged my own thinking to a deeper level; Susan Hagner, always a source of aesthetic and thoughtful environments for young children; and Leigh Ann Yuen, whose work with and documentation of toddlers reminds us of the deep capabilities of this age group. Many thanks to you all for your patience with this long writing and editing process and for your willingness to share your thinking. Other thinkers have contributed greatly to my own learning: Margie Carter, Deb Curtis, and Ann Pelo all provoke my thinking each time we meet; Diane Kashin is the ultimate “sharer” through social media and therefore encourages us all to read about one another’s work—​even the work of those outside of our own field; and of course, my longtime mentors and friends Carol Anne Wien and Betty Jones are responsible, as ever, for stretching my thinking. Together with other friends and colleagues—​ including Liz Rogers, Liz Hicks, and Carrie Melsom—​we have a group with whom we can bounce ideas around in a thought-​provoking yet safe environment. Much of the classroom work from Halifax Grammar School (HGS) would not have unfolded without my colleagues Martine Benson and Karen Cutcliffe, who were a part of the long-​and short-​term projects in the junior primary classroom. Linden Gray, head of the prep school, must also be thanked for her understanding of emer- gent curriculum and documentation and for the freedom she allowed me to explore new approaches. Finally, a huge thank-​you must go to the parents of the HGS junior primary chil- dren over the past five years. Not only did they demonstrate over and over again that xv COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE Early Childhood xvi   Pedagogical Documentation in TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET they understood and valued our curriculum, but they also supported us in practical ways with materials, visits to the classroom to share expertise, and simply their overall trust and enthusiasm. I send them heartfelt thanks for allowing me to share their children’s thinking and learning through this book. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Introduction The What and the Why DESCRIBING PEDAGOGICAL DOCUMENTATION When we notice and value children’s ideas, thinking, questions, and theories about the world and then collect traces of their work (drawings, photographs of the chil- dren in action, and transcripts of their words) to share with a wider community, then we are documenting. However, several levels of documentation exist. The process of documentation becomes pedagogical—​a study of the learning taking place—​when we try to understand the underlying meaning of the children’s actions and words, describing events in a way that makes our documentation a tool for collaboration, further learning, teacher research, and curriculum development. Carol Anne Wien provides insight into pedagogical documentation, stating that conceptualizing pedagogical documentation as teacher research calls upon the teacher not to know with certainty but instead to wonder, to inquire with grace into some temporary state of mind and feeling in children. (Wien, Guyevskey, and Berdoussis 2011, 2) The process of documentation is indeed just that: a process, rather than simply a display. We watch and listen carefully, paying attention not only to children’s play but also to their interactions with each other and with adults and to how they are using materials and their physical environment. In other words, we notice the ways in which the children relate with their world and what they think about that world. They may demonstrate their thinking through words, physical action, art, music, drama, and all the other ways in which children communicate their ideas—​their “hundred languages” (Malaguzzi 1993). Therefore, we must be careful observers. We must also be discreet, so we do not interfere with their interactions. If we have been taking notes and photographs, then we have information on which we can reflect. In a busy classroom, it may be tempting to omit the step of reflection. When we skip this step, it becomes “the missing middle” (Stacey 2009, 66), that is, the all-​important pause to reflect that informs our practice. It is difficult 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE Early TO ZOOM 2   Pedagogical Documentation in TAP Childhood WITH PHONE OR TABLET to find the time to meet with others in order to reflect together and engage in dia- logue. But this is a crucial part of making sense of what children are doing. It helps us decide what we should pay deeper attention to, what we should respond to, and what we should document. In dialogue with our team or our mentors, we share our thoughts, test our theories, and ask each other, “What do you wonder?” One of the most gratifying results of documenting children’s work is that it sup- ports our growth as teachers in many ways: I t demands that we reflect upon our own practices. When a child has used mate- rials or interacted with others in unexpected ways, when she struggles to bring her ideas to fruition, or when she passionately returns to her project day after day, pedagogical documentation forces us to ask ourselves questions: What is her intent? How can we support her learning? What prior knowledge or experience led to this discovery? What does this mean in terms of what we do tomorrow or next week? If we are to document the child’s thinking or learning respectfully and with insight, we need to reflect on these types of questions. W hen we examine our data—​photographs, notes, and recordings—​we can then engage in intentional practice. Having observed, recorded, and reflected, we can make carefully crafted decisions about how to respond to the child. Perhaps we have a vast quantity of information and must carefully consider what, exactly, is important to respond to—​and when—​for we cannot respond to everything we see. When we tease out what we consider to be important for a child and put this together into a documentation panel or page, the process often leads us to next steps. I n this way, curriculum becomes a collaboration between children and educators. And when we share pedagogical documentation with children, giving them an opportunity for further response, we become co-​owners of the curriculum. How the children respond—​what they say, what they notice, how they engage with the documentation—​will inform our decisions about what to do next. Ann Pelo, Margie Carter, and Deb Curtis describe this type of thinking and re- sponding in Carter and Curtis’s (2010) book, The Visionary Director, calling it “A Thinking Lens for Reflection and Inquiry®”:  Knowing Yourself Examining the Physical/Social/Emotional Environment Seeking the Child’s Point of View Finding the Details that Engage Your Heart and Mind Expanding Perspectives through Collaboration and Research Considering Opportunities and Possibilities for Next Steps COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET These six points remind us to pay attention to our emotional responses to each moment with children, to keep our values in mind, to think about the children’s thinking, to collaborate with others, and to reflect before we take action. When we think about the cycle of inquiry—​observing, reflecting, documenting, sharing, and responding—​we can see that pedagogical documentation has the ca- pacity to inform our classroom life in profound ways. It can influence children’s and teachers’ learning together and contribute to the development of a truly responsive curriculum. Documentation becomes so much more than display. THE NEED FOR SUPPORT When directors ask early years practitioners to observe and reflect and then to pro- duce documentation that demonstrates children’s thinking and learning, they are asking for a commitment of time and mental energy. What can they offer to support this type of practice? While everyone may recognize the value of reflective practice and pedagogical documentation, along with all the intrinsic rewards that come along with this type of work, how can directors support educators in the practical sense? Time is the most valuable resource that directors can offer. It is also the most dif- ficult to provide. It takes time to reflect and to construct documentation. Directors struggle with providing this time. It costs money, since it requires coverage within the classroom. Here are some strategies that directors have shared with me: S hare and reflect during staff meetings, instead of addressing business agenda items that can be managed through other forms of communication. When regular staff meetings become a time for sharing documentation and thinking together, they help staff form a supportive community of practitioners who think together. P rovide the resources for educators to produce documentation with children, in the classroom. The concrete supplies must be on hand, well organized, and ac- cessible at all times. W hen longer pieces of documentation need to be produced, redistribute staff on low-​attendance days in order to give one person time outside of the classroom to focus on assembling the data and mounting it. E mploy other staff in constructing documentation. One director shared that when she was hiring a new administrative assistant/receptionist, she chose some- one with an early childhood background, rather than an administrative person. One of the responsibilities of the new position was to construct documentation after meeting with the teachers in order to fully understand the described event. An assistant director or program coordinator can also fill this role. K eep expectations realistic. When we love documenting, we don’t mind spend- ing our own time to produce it. It is a pleasure for some educators to engage in this type of work. However, when we lead full lives both at work and at home, COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduction  3 DOUBLE Early TO ZOOM 4   Pedagogical Documentation in TAP Childhood WITH PHONE OR TABLET we sometimes just run out of time. We must keep our documentation simple so that it actually happens. It’s better to have short, thoughtful, and simple pieces of documentation on a regular basis than to have none at all. Short pieces of documentation, more easily produced, can often be linked to form a larger and richer whole over time. THE MANY FACES OF DOCUMENTATION Documentation comes in many forms. To find your own voice for documentation purposes, use those layouts and styles that best suit your children, families, and settings. Perhaps you are in an early childhood education community that values explanation of what you are doing and why. You would then put a heavier emphasis on text in your documentation. Or you might have a group of four-​and five-​year-​olds who have plenty to say about their work when they see it documented. You might then put more emphasis on photography and tell their story in pictures as well as text that includes their dialogue. Maybe you have a group of parents who spend more time reading documentation when it is filled with children’s work. In this case, you should ensure that your documentation always contains traces of that work. Or perhaps your observations of children lead to more questions for teachers, and your documentation becomes a narrative of how those questions were pursued as a form of teacher research to be shared with colleagues. Often, pedagogical documentation includes all these aspects. We often admire and become inspired by documentation from other settings. In this digital age, it’s easy—​and helpful—​to peruse the work of others. Yet, our documentation should be just that: ours. It should reflect our voices, cultures, and beliefs, and most importantly, the children within our particular settings. As I described in the preface, my first viewing of pedagogical documentation occurred when I encountered a documentation panel that was put together by the educators at the Model Early Learning Center in Washington, DC. Their influences came from Reggio Emilia—​a promising source, to be sure, in that the Italian edu- cators provide such high-​quality and insightful documentation. When I returned to Halifax, I spent several hours on my hands and knees with a T-​square and spray adhesive before realizing that for the time being, I needed to keep things simple. A rich and complex story can be simply and still powerfully told. Following are just a few of the options for documenting children’s work. We will explore these options through detailed examples in later chapters. Documentation Panels Documentation panels consist of photographs, text, and children’s work mounted on foam board, Bristol board, or another sturdy surface. These panels can describe long-​or short-​term projects or processes in which the children are engaged. You might choose to create one panel or several panels that connect pieces of the story over a period of time. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Extraordinary Moments Small yet wonderful moments of learning unfold around us every day. You might use a smaller page or panel to describe such individual moments. This type of documentation consists of a simple paragraph or two of text plus one or two photos to support the readers’ understanding. You can ei- ther display extraordinary moments or place them in a child’s portfolio for sharing with the child and her family. After noticing birds arriving at our bird feeder, several children pulled up “reading baskets” (laundry baskets), gathered clipboards, and sat in the baskets for more than a half hour, watching and counting birds and tal- lying how many visited. We teachers noticed that the counting had a competetive edge: who would see the most birds? We wondered, what is the importance of bird watching for these children? Daily Log My own experiences have shown me that a daily log of some sort is an invaluable tool for communicating with families. Producing one page per day for a log takes little time, yet this small investment brings big rewards. It gives families a touch point to examine and talk about with their child. A daily log page contains a description COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduction  5 DOUBLE Early TO ZOOM 6   Pedagogical Documentation in TAP Childhood WITH PHONE OR TABLET and photo of only one or two moments during the day, but it transmits the flavor of the children’s investigations. In the junior primary program at Halifax Gram- mar School, we placed our daily log on a small table just outside our door. Parents browsed through it with their children at departure time. Younger siblings also loved to look at this book, as did older students in our school who were just passing by. Documentation Developed by or with the Children Whenever I sit down at a classroom table to do some on-​the-​spot documentation during the school day, curious children immediately surround me. This tells me some- thing. They love to see their work, they love to see photographs of themselves working, and they love to see their work validated. They have plenty to say as I mount the photos and hand- write the text. So I have to adjust the words as we go. It is a fluid, organic process. The process helps me get a deeper sense of what happened, and it fascinates the children because they are seeing their own thinking made visible. Individual Portfolios Many child care centers, preschools, and ju- nior and senior kindergarten programs develop portfolios for individual children. Often, teach- ers use these portfolios for assessment purposes. They might include checklists or progress notes. However, a portfolio can show as well as tell a child’s developmental story. Pieces of documenta- tion can reflect the child’s involvement in project L. enjoys examining his own portfolio, work and complex play in remembering activities and understand- various areas of the room. ings from past classroom life. And transcripts of conver- sations with others can demonstrate understanding of a concept or a certain the- ory about the world. When a portfolio includes such documentation, it becomes much more than an assess- ment tool. It is also a story of ideas, investigations, and learning. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Electronic Documentation Depending on the type of setting in which you work, you may have opportunities to use applications to develop digital documentation and to disseminate this informa- tion electronically. This approach can make producing documentation incredibly con- venient and quick. Some families may be more inclined to read the documentation if it appears on their smartphones or tablets. In addition, presentation applications such as PowerPoint can guide you through graphic design decisions and help you make your documentation look neat and professional. However, electronic documentation does have its pitfalls. When your documen- tation process speeds up, you can find yourself with a missing middle if you skip the all-​important step of reflection. We will explore this challenge in chapter 6, which discusses electronic documentation in depth. Transcripts or Recordings of Conversations A conversation with a child can provide so much information about the child’s ideas and way of thinking that you simply can’t write it all down. This is when you need a recording device. If you record a child speaking, you can listen to the recording later, when you have a few free moments, and think about what meaning you should pull from the child’s words. When you transcribe parts of these conversations and use them in documentation, you provide insight for others to consider, and the docu- mentation itself becomes richer. In the monograph Making Teaching Visible, Harvard Graduate School of Educa- tion researchers comment on this richness. They offer the example of conversations during and after a simple field trip: Consider the following: What if teachers kept track of what the children were saying on the trip, or alternatively, on coming back from the outing asked children, “What surprised you at the pond? What discoveries did you make?” The children’s words (or writing or pictorial depictions) would add further information about the experience. What if the teacher were to add his or her perspective on the field trip, writing not only a log of what happened, but also an analysis of what learning and discoveries were made during the outing? The result would be a powerful reminder, not only of the events of the trip but also of the learning that happened as a result of the experience. Children would be enabled to reflect on their learning and potentially learn more. (Project Zero 2003, 54) This quote reminds us to listen and take note, as well as watch. And then, we need to reflect on next steps. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduction  7 DOUBLE Early TO ZOOM 8   Pedagogical Documentation in TAP Childhood WITH PHONE OR TABLET Learning Stories Developed by Margaret Carr and Wendy Lee, both of New Zealand, learning stories are narratives that describe learning and help children see themselves as powerful learners. The primary audience for a learning story is the child herself and her fam- ily. Therefore, the narrative is written for and to the child. Here is a short excerpt, providing an example of the tone and vocabulary used in a learning story, provided by Diane Kashin, author of Technology-Rich Inquiry-Based Research, a blog that she publishes with Louise Jupp: J. and M., I noticed how thoughtfully you negotiated a fair plan to gather the beans from the garden together. You helped one another with the task and showed a great deal of co-​operation and understanding of each other’s ideas for completing the task. (Kashin 2013) The Classroom as Documentation When thinking about the big picture of documentation—​all that it entails, and the many ways in which it can be shared—​it is important to remember that classrooms themselves are a form of documentation. For instance, what can we learn about someone else’s philosophy, teaching approaches, and beliefs when we first walk into that person’s room? We often form a strong first impression, then follow up with deeper browsing, a searching for links to the person’s thinking and how the person makes that thinking visible. Each teaching and learning space has an ambience and a message, and we intuitively pick up on this message. Room arrangement and materials send a message. Is the environment child-​ centered? What is the role of natural materials? What is the evidence of this space belonging to the children? The walls send yet another powerful message: How and where is the documen- tation placed? Can the children see it clearly, in order to comment further on past experiences? How are teachers collecting traces of children’s thinking and ideas? Do they have note-​taking systems? Are cameras on hand? Do the children themselves make deci- sions about what to share or what not to share? Rather than serving as a way to judge, these types of observations can lead us to understanding the many ways that early childhood settings, and in particular their documentation, work to support the children. We can learn from the walls and the rooms of our colleagues. Using pedagogical documentation, we can do much more than display what has happened in our learning environment. We can dig deeper, searching for the under- lying motivations and ideas that the children are developing. We can comment on this analysis from the teacher’s perspective, bringing families and other interested readers into the complex circle of thinking that is teaching. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET INVITATION TO EXPLORE H ow does the description of pedagogical documentation in this introduction compare or contrast with your previous understanding of documentation? I f you have already begun documenting children’s work, examine some of these pieces using a reflective lens. How does the documentation help you grasp the children’s understandings or misunderstandings? If it does not help you compre- hend their thinking, then what do you need to add? COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduction  9 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET REGGIO / ASSESSMENT The what, the why, and the how of pedagogical documentation What does your classroom say about the children’s ideas, inquiries, learning, and play? Pedagogical Documentation in Early Childhood will help you answer those questions and create documentation that tells the story of children’s exploration. This practical guide provides rich ideas, useful references, beautiful visuals, and the framework to get you started. Pedagogical Documentation in Early Childhood gives you: • Ideas for developing the documentation habit • Tools for communicating the curriculum and children’s experiences to families and others • Tips on design aspects including text, photos, and assembling large projects • Tools for increased collaboration, learning, and curriculum development At the end of each chapter you will find an invitation to explore, which offers you a starting point if you are new to pedagogical documentation, or a pathway to deeper reflection if you are already practicing it. With this book you can create documentation that is insightful, beautifully presented, and thought provoking. “Stacey reminds us that the value of documentation goes beyond an attractive display on the walls—at its best it leads to reflection and dialogue. This book offers a number of valuable and practical examples of how to focus the work of pedagogical documentation. If we are to put the idea of teacher research into real life, pedagogical documentation is a cornerstone. Stacey’s very practical book brings the practice to life.” —Margie Carter, early childhood consultant and co-author, The Visionary Director, Designs for Living and Learning, and Learning Together with Young Children Susan Stacey has spent more than 35 years in early childhood education, doing everything from working with children to conducting research. She currently teaches at the Nova Scotia College of Early Childhood Education and presents across North America. Stacey is also the author of Emergent Curriculum in Early Childhood Settings and The Unscripted Classroom: Emergent Curriculum in Action. ISBN 978-1-60554-391-8 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL $34.95